A quick walkthrough on 4 types of cities in Mexico

A quick walkthrough on 4 types of cities I came across on my journey through Mexico - photography

Fusion of Color, music, art, flavors, - it would be hard to describe Mexico in a short review. It’s huge (it feels huge), it’s complex. It covers nearly two million square kilometers and is a kaleidoscope of landscapes. Here you can find exotic beaches, tropical rainforests, rugged mountains, deserts, sprawling metropolises, and colorful colonial towns. I would be lying if I said I know it all after a few weeks of traveling. It left me unsatisfied with a weighty feeling of missing something - there is so much more to discover. Starting with its rich history and cultural heritage spanning more than 10,000 years, Mexico’s territory was home to significant pre-colonial civilizations: Olmecs, Teotihuacáns, and the most known - Aztec and Mayan. Then the conquest by the Spanish and a 300-year period of colonization, the struggle for independence, and the country’s rebuilding in the 20th century. All this left a significant mark on today's Mexico and is reflected in its culture, architecture, and cuisine. A quick guide on different types of cities I came across during my trip through Mexico could be an interesting way of showing its complexity and multi-layered structure.

Pastel Stucco Colonial Town - Valladolid

Located in the middle of the Yucatan Penisula, just two hours from Tulum via straight-line road through the jungle, this tiny colonial town is unbelievably vibrant and tranquil. It was established in 1543 by Spanish colonizers atop a Mayan town called Zaci, whose buildings were dismantled to reuse the stones to build the Spanish town. The town has an authentic vibe to it. Some of the Mayans, who make up most of the population, wear the traditional Huipil which is a white cotton blouse or dress adorned with bright, floral embroidery. The Yukatek Maya, Mayan dialect, can be still heard on the streets. On the other hand, Valladolid low-level buildings, colorful walls, colonnades, and paving-stone streets maintain an Iberian feel. The great thing about this city is that Valladolid is off the beaten path so you won’t get crushed by the crowd of tourists.

Colorful Streets of Valladolid, Rivera Maya
Valladolid the streets
Lady selling enchiladas, valladolid
Share, wherever you are, especially chips ;)

Share, wherever you are, especially chips ;)

Beautiful hand-painted Typography -’Helados’ means Icecreams

Beautiful hand-painted Typography -’Helados’ means Icecreams

Church of Valladolid Mexico
Local old man Mexico Valladolid
Hipui valladolid Mexico
Selling breakfast Valladolid Mexico
Women huipil Valladolid Mexico
Man drinking Valladolid Mexico
Doors colorful Mexico
Streets of Valladolid Mexico

Pop. Beach Town - Playa Del Carmen

This is a popular coastal resort town in eastern Mexico. It features a wide array of tourist activities due to its geographical location. Big chains of hotels, shopping centers, palm-lined beaches, Coral Reef right off the coast, souvenirs, tours, restaurants: these are some of the main attractions highly desired by tourists. Playa del Carmen is a bit smaller and less packed than the bigger and more party oriented Cancun. Coco Bongo Nightclub and Party Vegas shoe-? are a few somewhat cheesy, names that can help you imagine what type of attractions are waiting for party animals.

Playa del Carmen Shops
Playa Del Carmen - Church
Tourists on the beach playa del Carmen

Bohemian Beach Town - Tulum

Tulum is basically known for two things - its impressively situated Maya ruins and spectacular coastline with trendy and pricy (Pinterest-like) restaurants, boutiques and hotels onshore. The beach is located 20 minutes from the town by bike - one of the most popular modes of transportation. The town center, that has grown rapidly for the last few years sits right on the highway and the trough is not really pretty. What I liked the most about it were the fruit stands and the amusement park - where I could watch the entertainment of the local community and discover new types of games. The town offers lodgings and restaurants to fit every budget and is a great base for trips like cave and cenote or surrounding Mayan Ruins. The Tulum ruins are incredible, established on rock formations, looking majestically towards the Ocean. The omnipresent Iguana reptiles slowly crawling among the rock or sunbathing give you an impression that they are majestic guardians, left to watch over this ancient place.  But beware - 9 am sharp the tours that come from all the regions are rapidly take over. In the pursuit of the perfect Instagram shot, selfie sticks are block the walkways and views.

The Mayan ruins in Tulum

The Mayan ruins in Tulum

Mango - that’s how juicy are local fruits

Mango - that’s how juicy are local fruits

Tourists
Tourist walking around the Tulum ruins

Tourist walking around the Tulum ruins

Fruits and Iguana Mexico
The beach located just underneath the Tulum Ruins
Yucatan Peninsula is known to have the world’s most widespread range of underwater caves and sinkholes called cenotes. Here: ‘The Gran Cenote’ near Tulum.

Yucatan Peninsula is known to have the world’s most widespread range of underwater caves and sinkholes called cenotes. Here: ‘The Gran Cenote’ near Tulum.

Sol and me
Pinterest alike Restaurants and Boutiques. Tulum beach.

Pinterest alike Restaurants and Boutiques. Tulum beach.

The Tulum Beach

Megapolis - Mexico City (also known as DF - the Distrito Federal)

The story behind Mexico City is really interesting. During the Aztec period, Mexico City (Tenochtitlán) was initially built on the artificial island over a lake, the Lago de Texcoco. The development of Tenochtitlán has fulfilled one of the Aztec ancient prophecies. When Spanish explorer and conqueror Hernán Cortés arrived in the area, he first gained the support of local tribes tired of Aztec rule (Aztecs were fierce warriors who dominated other indigenous tribes throughout the region). Montezuma II, the king of Aztecs, believed that Cortez was their white god Quetzalcóatl, whose return had been prophesied and welcomed Spaniards with every courtesy. After enjoying the king’s hospitality for several weeks, Cortés suddenly captured the emperor and using the help of local tribes he conquered the Teotihuacán. The Spanish then built Mexico City on the ruins of the once great Aztec city.

Now Mexico City is a Megapolis, huge, diverse and polarized, filled with contradictions and yawning inequality. It has a population greater than that of London, Beijing and New York and is divided into uncountable neighborhoods, or 'colonias' - each with a distinct identity.  The infamous smog that shrouds the city has decreased significantly over the few last years. Sky-scrapers are growing like bamboo. The city is unbelievably rich in culture - with world-class museums, a vibrant art scene and bustling markets. The food is incredibly delicious and has gained fame around the world. Mexico City produces world-class chefs, artists, and movie directors. To top it all off The Mexican Muralism Movement of Diego Rivera seemed to find its continuation in omnipresent modern-day Street Art.

Two volcanoes nearby the Mexico City - Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl (or just Popo and Izta) - According to Aztec mythology, those two volcanoes which are located near Mexico City were once living humans – a man and woman who were deeply in love. They later transformed into the volcanoes, which are now seen as symbols of their love.

Two volcanoes nearby the Mexico City - Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl (or just Popo and Izta) - According to Aztec mythology, those two volcanoes which are located near Mexico City were once living humans – a man and woman who were deeply in love. They later transformed into the volcanoes, which are now seen as symbols of their love.

Mexico city Outskirts San Carlos
Mexico city
Roma Norte is a trendy neighbourhood full of restaurants, hipster-run coffee shops, bars, parks, markets and shops buoyed by boundless artistic entrepreneurialism.

Roma Norte is a trendy neighbourhood full of restaurants, hipster-run coffee shops, bars, parks, markets and shops buoyed by boundless artistic entrepreneurialism.

Palacio de bellas Artes fasade Mexico
Mexico City Metro - It is the second largest metro system in North America after the New York City Subway. It offers the quickest way to get around Mexico City - It has 195 stations and more than 226km of track on 12 lines.

Mexico City Metro - It is the second largest metro system in North America after the New York City Subway. It offers the quickest way to get around Mexico City - It has 195 stations and more than 226km of track on 12 lines.

Parents placing their children for a souvenir photo on the background of the   old Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe   - one of the most visited Catholic Shrines in the world and the National Shrine of Mexico. That’s where Our Lady of Guadalupe, or the Virgin Mary, is believed to have appeared to a Native American peasant named Juan Diego in 1531.

Parents placing their children for a souvenir photo on the background of the old Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe - one of the most visited Catholic Shrines in the world and the National Shrine of Mexico. That’s where Our Lady of Guadalupe, or the Virgin Mary, is believed to have appeared to a Native American peasant named Juan Diego in 1531.

Baptism of indigenous population. A Fresco inside a chapel located in the Villa de Guadalupe complex.

Baptism of indigenous population. A Fresco inside a chapel located in the Villa de Guadalupe complex.

Mexico food
pelgrims Villa de Guadalupe
Mexico city
People raising hands towards the sun while standing on top of the  Pyramid of the Sun,   Teotihuacan ,

People raising hands towards the sun while standing on top of the Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan,

Teotihuacán  , (Nahuatl: “The City of the Gods”) the most important and largest city of pre-Aztec central Mexico, located about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of modern Mexico City.

Teotihuacán, (Nahuatl: “The City of the Gods”) the most important and largest city of pre-Aztec central Mexico, located about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of modern Mexico City.

Graffiti Mexico city

Omnipresent Graffiti and Street Art.

Aram & Abril | Costa Rica Wedding Photographer

Wedding Photography in Costa Rica

The Rain Season, also known as the Green Season, is simply stunning - this is not an exaggeration. It is a time when nature wakes up after half a year of harsh sun and literally not a single drop of rain. The tropical summer in Central America - especially at the lowlands like the Nicoya Peninsula, Guanacaste Province and Rivas can get really hot - it leaves the land dry and in a pastel palette. Then, in June everything changes. After the first rainfall, Nature starts to flourish, the greenery becomes lush, tropical forests come alive, colors are rich and vivid with thousands of shades of green.

Aram and Abril have chosen this period of the year for their wedding. The Wedding Venue was Hacienda Ecolodge surrounded by dense tropical forest. The Ceremony took place at a magical beach, just a 3 minute walk across the suspension bridge.

We've been friends with Abril and Aram for quite some time now. Actually, Abril was one of the first people I met when I came to Central America 8 years ago. She is an insanely talented designer and has a great eye for details - she had made her wedding dress all by herself! Together with Aram, they make this gorgeous modern handmade furniture - Masaya & CO - it is worth checking out.

Beach Wedding Venues Costa Rica
Beach Wedding Venue Tamarindo Costa Rica
Beach Wedding details in Guanacaste Costa Rica
Beach Wedding in Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Beautiful tropical, jungle style wedding venue Costa Rica
Tropical style wedding details in Costa rica
Beach wedding in tropical style, Costa Rica
Getting ready, Tropical wedding photographer
Costa Rica wedding photography portraits
Portrait of the Bride, Costa Rica beach wedding photographer
Portrait of the Bride, Dress earrings, Costa Rica beach wedding photographer
Portrait of the Bride on the bridge, Tropical beach wedding photographer, Costa Rica
Portrait of the Bride on the bridge, Tropical beach wedding photographer, Costa Rica
Newlywed couple on the bridge in tamarindo Costa Rica. Wedding in tropical style
Destination Wedding photography in Tamarindo costa rica
Destination Wedding photographer in Guanacaste, Costa rica
Beautiful beach destination wedding in tropical style. Destination Wedding photographer in Costa Rica.
Detail wedding photography tamarindo
Guests during the wedding in Tamarindo
Destination wedding
Destination Wedding photographer in Tamarindo Costa Rica
Destination Wedding photographer in guanacaste Costa Rica
Destination Wedding photography Guanacaste
Wedding photography Coco beach, Costa Rica
Wedding photographer in Coco beach, Costa Rica
Wedding photographer in Coco beach, Costa Rica. Tropical beach destination wedding.
Destination Wedding photography, family portrait at the beach, Costa Rica
Family photography in Tamarindo Costa Rica
Family portrait photography in Tamarindo Costa Rica
Family Photographer in tamarindo costa rica
Family photography in Tamarindo Costa rica
Couple photography beach photo inspiration in Costa rica
Family portrait Costa Rica
Wedding ring rustic style made of wood inspiration
Mother Photography on the beach wedding photo inspiration
Wedding costa rica
Rain wedding
Portrait of a pretty girl during a wedding reception in Costa Rica.
Wedding photography reception portrait
Rustic Wedding Photography of the party in costa rica B&W
Chele Wedding Costa rica Photographer
First Dance during the tropical wedding in Costa Rica
Tropical style wedding party in Costa Rica
Tropical style wedding on the beach Costa Rica

Along the Croatian Coastline - Photographer Croatia

My favorite cities in Croatia - Photography

This summer we spent our time in Europe. I thought about doing a little Euro-trip so in order to travel freely, I decided to buy a car. The plan was to start in Poland, go through Slovakia and Hungary, cross Croatia and finish the trip traveling through northern Italy. Little did I know...

Zagreb 

Zagreb Cathedral

Zagreb Cathedral

After spending more than a week we in Hungary we entered Croatia from the East.  On our way was its capital - Zagreb. My first impression when we reached it was just as if I went back in time to Poland at the turn of the centuries, where Post-Soviet housing projects, modernist architecture, and 19th-century tenement houses were still covered in graffiti. The urban landscape changed when we reached Zagreb’s upper town. Combined by two hills, Kaptol and Gradec, the city center is charming. Colorful low architecture, numerous narrow streets, plazas, parks, and a variety of restaurants and coffee shops, creates a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

Rijeka

But deep within, we were feeling the rush to finally get to the Adriatic Sea. After a short stop in Zagreb, we moved on to the Croatian port city of Rijeka. It was already night when we got there. In order to reach the city, you have to drive down a winding road going downhill. Rijeka streets are narrow, inclined and challenging to drive. We went to sleep quickly after a few glasses of Croatian wine at the main plaza with hopes of seeing more next morning. I woke up before the sunrise and climbed the streets up to the upper part of the city. The view from the top was breathtaking. Beneath me, the city was dividing into two parts, on the left, industrial surrounding of the port, on the right, a warm palette of red roof tiles, creamy walls and cobblestone streets. The background was formed by a blue sea and tiny white boats.

Looking for something to eat we came across Rijeka's Main Market – Placa. Positioned just by the seashore in the very center was a quick and easy option for morning grocery runs. It turned out that city markets are one of my favorite places in Croatia. Stalls piled high with fresh local produce and the cheery banter of traders was catching my attention. Familiar Slavic faces. I felt like in my hometown Ełk where I lived as a young kid. Every Sunday, before the church routine, with my childhood friend Lukasz we would go to the city market - our main Sunday attraction. We would wander around and look for adventures. Here, I felt the same eastern atmosphere, familiar faces. Just the surroundings changed to more exotic, Mediterranean, and warm. Since then I  visited every market I came across.

That’s when this idea occurred - what if we travel through southern Croatia instead of going straight to Italy? - I asked Solieth. “why not” - she responded without hesitation. After seeing the map it appeared we had two options - using a quick, toll highway far from the coast, or the curvy road next to it. We chose the second option. I didn’t want to miss all those views on the way.  

Rijeka surroundings
rocky beach photography croatia

rocky beach photography croatia

Rijeka downtown.

Rijeka downtown.

Rijeka streets photography
Obligatory morning press routine for most men.

Obligatory morning press routine for most men.

Inside Plaka - Rijeka main market.

Inside Plaka - Rijeka main market.

Fish vendor Croatia
Croatians in market portrait
Grapes croatia
fruits croatia
marketcroatia
Ship bay croatia landscape
Croatia landscape

Zadar.

The curvy road appeared to be really curvy, situated high, between rocky slopes and steep cliffs to the right. Driving that road was really exhausting and stressful - but in the end, it was worth it. The views on the way were just stunning.

The next stop on our way was Zadar - the gateway to Dalmatia. Set on a small peninsula Zadar is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. A historic old town of Roman ruins, medieval churches, museums, trendy cafes and quality restaurants make it a popular destination. The City colors are a mix of smooth pastel tones. The streets are made of burnished marble, so smooth that you could almost ice skate across the cobblestones. Among tourists, it is known for its rich nightlife and attractions like Sea Organ and Solar powered Dancefloor.

The good thing about driving a car is that you can stop anywhere you like…and I was stopping a lot. The one hour drive was taking me four hours. That’s how I was discovering all the little things on the way - inaccessible beaches between the rocks, little villages with the best bakeries and stunning viewpoints. And that’s how I discovered Sibenik.

Zadar downtown
Man Jumping to the water from  The Sea Organs  - an experimental installation, which plays music generated by the motion of sea waves through a series of 35 organ pipes built under a set of large marble steps. Zadar.

Man Jumping to the water from The Sea Organs - an experimental installation, which plays music generated by the motion of sea waves through a series of 35 organ pipes built under a set of large marble steps. Zadar.

Cruise ship passengers

Cruise ship passengers

Church of san. Donatus tower photo
Croatia market fruits zadar
croatian in red
cheese meet croatia photo
chile croatia
Bridge Sibenik Croatia

Šibenik 

Šibenik wasn’t in my plans. It was supposed to be just a quick stop on our way to Split - get something to eat, refuel the car, catch our breaths- that’s it. But after getting there we decided to explore the old town.
Locals were cheerfully drinking their coffee, men with the obligatory morning press in hand - sometimes vigorously debating - kids happily going to school. People were living their daily life. It was pleasing to watch and from my perspective as a photographer - authenticity of the moment is something I am attracted to. Later on, I was told the city center is mostly inhabited by locals and city authorities are trying to maintain it this way. A labyrinth of steep back streets and alleys leads to medieval St. Michael's Fortress which crowns the pyramidal hill above Šibenik’s Old Town. The fort offers a spectacular view of the city and the Šibenik channel. During the summer months, it becomes an impressive open-air stage for cultural events. We decided to stay for a few days.

View over Sibenik and its cemetery from St. Michael’s Fortress.

View over Sibenik and its cemetery from St. Michael’s Fortress.

Sibenik detail
Sibenik restaurant
Sibenik streets
Kids school Sibenik
cat croatia sibenik
Croatians talking
Sibenik stone walls
Croatia Market Sibenik
wine grapes Croatia
Sibenik
View of Bay Sibenik croatia
Looking at shop-window
Interview Sibenik
Michael’s Fortress above the Šibenik city center

Michael’s Fortress above the Šibenik city center

Split

In order to enjoy the beach, we stayed near Split for a few days. Split’s outside town is somewhat shabby and the city center felt too busy. It’s the main connection port where everyone catches the ferry to nearby Islands. A lot of ships, people in a rush, many tourists. I even ran into Blaze, a colleague I met in Nicaragua. He was running to catch his bus to Dubrovnik - the world is a small place - I thought - such a random encounter. Of course, I enjoyed Split’s local market a lot - but that’s my personal taste.

Split air photography.jpg
Croatia old woman market
colorful houses photography Split

Omiš

Our stop farthest to the south was a small town called Omiš. In the xiv century a well known and feared home to pirates is now heavily visited by tours in all shapes and sizes. The town shares an incredible location - it is pressed between a giant rock formation. The Cetina River that divides it in two is a great platform for the voyage up the river’s current. The castle tower rising above the historic city center gives a great lookout to admire the landscape. The main street is a tourist promenade with curfew vendors, all types of souvenirs and hotdogs.

Omis Cetina river landscape
Slavic classic - old ladies sitting on the bench and gossipin

Slavic classic - old ladies sitting on the bench and gossipin

Omis town houses photograph

Hvar Island and Hvar Town

From Split, We took a ferry which took us directly to Hvar city located on Hvar Island. On the way, we got caught by a fastly moving storm. Dark gray, low clouds surrounded the boat and heavy rain hit the deck - only the sound of thunder was able to overcome the loud sound.

After reaching the Island the first thought we had was to find  shelter. Due to weather conditions, it was decided in favor of one of the closest coastal restaurants on our way. Soaked and cold we started by ordering a coffee. The waiter, over fifty, with an apron tightly strapped around his sizeable belly instructed us that only in case of ordering the food we could stay. It would be hard for me to leave a penny in this place. It was also the first time I’ve experienced Croatians to not be friendly and welcoming. As I was about to learn Hvar city is very much focused on making money from tourism - with their own set of rules, restrictions, and way the city is organized.

The Hvar town itself is beautiful. Occupying gentle slopes the city is facing Pakleni Islands - an archipelago of paradise looking islands beset by turquoise waters where you can sunbathe, swim, snorkel or…party. Later on, I discovered that Hvar has the reputation of a party town. The promenade surrounding the coast can take you to the tiny beaches between the rocks, little bays with white boats, restaurants or a massive resort on the outskirts. It looks better than it feels and after less than two days we felt really tired of the crowds and its ambiance.  


Lighthouse on the way to Hvar Island

Lighthouse on the way to Hvar Island

ferry passagners
Storm adriatic sea photograph
Hvar town and Pakleni Islands.

Hvar town and Pakleni Islands.

Hvar town swim
Hvar town bay
Croatia water colors
Hvar center photography

Stari Grad on the Hvar Island

Our ferry back to the mainland was sailing off from Stari Grad - little town located on the opposite side of the island. We still wanted to explore more before we left. I remember that in my mind, I had this image of lavender fields covering the island, that my brother told me about. We took a morning bus to Stari Grad. The road takes you up to the heights, where you can enjoy the view over the island, coastal line and the rich blue color of the sea. The Hvar Island is mountainous - during this time of the year, it felt really dry. It’s said to have the highest number of sunny days in all of Croatia. I was carefully examining the horizon in the pursuit of the image I had in my mind. I saw vineyards and olive-groves covering the slopes, calm bays of turquoise water, and single houses occasionally scattered around - but couldn’t spot the lavender.

Stari Grad is known to be the oldest town in Croatia. It was Established in the IVth century B.C. by Greeks who named it Pharos.  Its cultural landscape has remained practically intact since. The agricultural activity of the surrounding cities fertile plains is mainly focused on grapes and olives, and it has been maintained since ancient Greek times to the present.

As opposed to Hvar,  Stari Grad provides you with a breath of tranquility. The cool shade of narrow streets and small squares of its city center were helping us survive the midday harsh sun. It was pleasant to get lost in there, quietly explore each corner, peep local life without worrying about getting stuck somewhere between crowds. I spotted a little window in a stone wall below the “vino” signboard. A little while after I pulled a small hanging bell and the vendor's head appeared from the dark long corridor. He let us try a few of his homemade wines. Sweet dessert Prošek and Mali Plavac made of small blue wine grapes that grow along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia - in Croatian Plavo means blue; Mali means small.

Our next stop was Pharia, a restaurant we ran into while exploring. What caught our attention and enchanted us was Its beautiful patio. We were waited on by a tall guy with a ponytail, stubble, long flannel-plaid shirt and pleasing manners. When asked about Dj Shadow and Lauren Hill that were playing from the speakers alternately, he summed up with a sincere smile - it's my playlist, it's great someone noticed.
I really enjoyed the place - relaxing atmosphere, fresh seafood, kiwi plants full of fruits hanging above us, delicious sweet wine that was improving the mood even more. Unfortunately, It was getting late and our ferry was leaving soon - we should have come to Stari Grad from the beginning - I thought.

The way back was pleasing, the Adriatic sea was calm, a gentle breeze was keeping us cool and we admired impressive mountain ranges we were passing by.

Hvar island photograph
Stari Grad details
Stari grad street
House Croatia town
Stari Grad
sun
Stari Grad wine
sol y frutas
The Stari Grad Plain  - an agricultural landscape that was set up by the ancient Greek colonists in the 4th century BC and remains in use. The landscape features ancient stone walls and trims, or small stone shelters. The Plains bears testimony to the ancient geometrical system of land division used by the ancient Greeks, the chora which has remained virtually intact.

The Stari Grad Plain - an agricultural landscape that was set up by the ancient Greek colonists in the 4th century BC and remains in use. The landscape features ancient stone walls and trims, or small stone shelters. The Plains bears testimony to the ancient geometrical system of land division used by the ancient Greeks, the chora which has remained virtually intact.

4B0B5507.jpg

Drone Video from my trip to Croatia: https://goo.gl/YeBW4j